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I’ve never really been a podcast kind of guy; I much prefer reading articles where I can skim through sections, go back and re-read what I’m interested in, and easily revisit the article later if I want to. Podcasts always felt clunky to me. First of all, I rarely have the time to devote 20 minutes or an hour to listening to one or two (or more) guys talking about football. Secondly, the video limits the ability to skim through less interesting sections, and the ability to go back later and find something you did find interesting. Podcasts are harder to share — I mean, you can share the whole podcast, but it’s much harder to, say, grab one or two interesting comments out of the middle and put them on Twitter. Also, since most of the communicating I do about football is in the form of blog articles, podcasts present more challenges in terms of sharing the content in my native format of written articles.
As most longer term members of Hogs Haven are probably aware, I am a university teacher. I am currently on my summer break, which lasts from mid-May to early-August. During my annual break, I try to keep the blog full of content via the daily Twitter post and the 5 O’Clock Club posts.
Apart from my focus on Hogs Haven, I put a lot of extra effort in on my fitness during the summer breaks, and that has been even more true that usual since the end of the pandemic lockdowns, which were much more severe and of much longer duration here in Thailand than in the US (most Thais continue to wear masks in public even now). During the 19-months of lockdown that I was subjected to, which included very strict curfews for about 8 months in 2020, I stayed home alone and got really fat. I am now into my second summer of trying to regain the fitness that I lost during the two years of COVID restrictions.
As part of my summer fitness routine, I walk 8-10 miles per day, which takes a couple of hours (or more). I sometimes listen to music as I walk, but more frequently I listen to audio books. Earlier this summer, a book ended when I was in the middle of a walk, and rather than trying to stop and find another book, I connected to a John Keim podcast for the final 25 minutes of my return leg home.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Bit by bit over the past month, I have increasingly turned to podcasts about Commanders football when I am walking or lifting weights. I’m probably listening to about 3 per week at this point. If you like football and you have the time or patience to listen to them, podcasts provide a ton of potentially valuable information about the team and the NFL in general.
Last night, I walked about 3 miles home from a restaurant after a late meal, and I didn’t have a book handy, so I listened to three John Keim podcasts instead. The last of the 3 that I listened to was from last week when Bram Weinstein, the radio voice of the Commanders, was John Keim’s guest.
I thought that a lot of what the two of them had to say was interesting because they were talking about the offensive line, and Bram Weinstein, in particular, was pretty upbeat in his assessments. With all the doom & gloom that has been floating around about the line (and I’m a purveyor of that doom & gloom along with a lot of other people), I thought you might enjoy a relatively positive take on the outlook for Washington’s 2023 OL unit.
I’ve transcribed a lot of what Weinstein said below, but if you want to listen to all of his offensive line comments, then you can click on the video link below.
That video isn’t the full podcast, which is at least twice the length of this excerpt. If you want to experience the entire thing, you can follow the link that John Keim sent out on Twitter:
In video form with @RealBramW as we discuss what we saw this spring; what it means for the season. Yep, Sam Howell talk. But much more. Optimism for the D; the young DBs. @ESPNRichmond https://t.co/1NWbqh4RJL— John Keim (@john_keim) June 12, 2023
Excerpts from the podcast
Bram Weinstein (00:00):
I’ll give you one more name that I think is probably off a lot of people’s radar that I think is gonna be a key person this year, and it’s totally a “show me” year for this person. Saahdiq Charles has to not only win the job but be good because I think we all know that the offensive line has been upgraded, and I do think it’s gonna be better, and I do think that they have some young depth, which I like.
I do think that there’s a possibility that they’re pretty good. I’m not gonna go so far as to call [the offensive line] a strength, but I do think that they could be pretty good.
That said, starting wise, the left side of the line — if [Saahdiq Charles] does not perform well — could become a major liability. [On the other hand], if he becomes the starter that they’ve thought he could be for a few years and are now giving him the opportunity to be, [then] I think it’s gonna answer a lot of questions in terms of protection for them. So there is a lot, in my opinion, [riding] on [Charles] being everything they said he’s gonna be for a couple of years — and hopefully he’ll step up and be that for them.
Improved from 2022; the right side of the line
John Keim (01:04):
I know last year you sounded alarms [about the offensive line], and it turns out there was good reason for that. You hammered that all off season. [Do] you think this group is better?
Bram Weinstein (01:48):
John Keim (01:49):
Are they better? How much better is it? Enough better?
Bram Weinstein (01:59):
I don’t think [that] at this point it’s their strength, and I don’t think anybody would call it that, but last year I walked in going ‘this is gonna be a weakness and I hope I’m wrong, but it’s gonna be a weakness’. And I [thought] they were relying on people they shouldn’t [have been] relying on just because of tread on the tires, injury history, all that stuff.
[This season], Sam Cosmi, I feel like, will be better as a guard. I don’t know that he’s going to be, but I think if he gets comfortable in that position and can stay healthy, [then] they’re gonna figure out a way to use his athleticism. He can move. So, I actually like him as a right guard over right tackle, [and] I trust Andrew Wylie is an upgrade at that position for them. So that being the case, I like the right side of the line and I’m optimistic about it.
Nick Gates and the Center position
Bram Weinstein (02:40):
I love [Center Nick] Gates — I said this from the second that they signed him. I loved what I saw on tape from him when he came back from his injuries for the Giants. I think he’s an animal. I think he’s exactly what they need, and everything that I’ve seen so far — from the way he interacts with Howell & the way he’s interacting in practice — he’s an all-in type of guy. So, I love him and hopefully he’ll stay healthy. I think he is a solid, solid upgrade for them.
I feel good about center now that Larson’s back and they have somebody in development behind them. The left side of the line is where I am concerned and that’s why I said Saahdiq Charles is a huge part of all of this.
Bram Weinstein (03:19):
And they have some prospects behind them. They have a guy like Chris Paul that they think might be able to play potentially two positions — we’ll see.
They’ve got this center [Ricky Stromberg] in development.
They, they drafted another guard/tackle in [Braeden] Daniels.
I think there are possibilities here, and there are a couple of guys like Alex Akingbulu. He’s been there for a couple of years. He’s fast — like he’s really fast. Can he play the position at the level they need him to? I don’t know. But he’s extremely athletic.
So all I’m saying is [that] I think they have a decent group. Last year I was nervous they had a group that was gonna fall apart, which it did. This year I don’t feel like without, you know, injuries that it’s gonna fall apart. And I do see more of an upside of what’s there.
I do think it’s [an offensive line that] I trust a lot more. That’s the way I’d put it — I trust it a lot more. I just don’t think at this point — prove me wrong — that it’s a strength, but I also don’t think it’s an enormous weakness that could crumble the whole thing anymore.
The two draft picks: Stromberg and Daniels
John Keim (06:10):
You have a third-round pick in Stromberg and a fourth round pick in Daniels who, if all goes well, will not play this year.
Bram Weinstein (06:42):
I Don’t have a problem with that. Why do people have a problem with that? That’s how you build a good roster. I saw criticisms [because] they drafted these two guys and they’re not slated into start.They’re gonna make the team!
[Braeden Daniels] is a fourth round pick — what are we talking about here? That’s how you build a good roster; when you have this kind of depth, if you develop, you pick these guys and they’re in line to either take the place of somebody who gets priced out because of salary cap stuff or just gets better than them at the time. I mean, that’s building a good roster!
The future outlook
I know what the national media is saying about [the 2023 Commanders]. I don’t believe that this is a bad season that’s coming here — outside of [the possibility that] there could be a lot of noise with transition that I think could get in their way, which is a totally different topic and I hope doesn’t happen.
I’m trying to focus on what they have in front of them, and I gotta tell you — the roster I look at right now is not one that is gonna be bad. They have multiple potential pro bowlers on offense and definitively multiple potential pro bowlers on defense.
They [look like] a team that’s gonna pick a left tackle with their first round pick next year, or they’re going to — because they have a lot of cap room — spend money on whatever great left tackle hits the open market, and then it’s gonna be off to the races — IF everything goes well.
My point is this: I see what Rivera is saying in terms of [the team being close to] putting [a talented team] out there that I think is extremely competitive — contingent on Sam [Howell] being what they’re saying that he’s going to be. He doesn’t have to be Mahomes or Allen, but he’s gotta be Cousins [at the] bare minimum. And if he can become that for [the Commanders], they have a tremendous amount of flexibility to make a good roster great. If he’s not, and [if] he’s not what they say he’s going to be, we all know what’s going to happen.
When I look at this roster – [and] I’m trying to be as unbiased as possible — I don’t see a team that’s gonna tank. I don’t see a team that’s gonna be bad. I see a team that’s gonna be pretty good to potentially better than pretty good if Howell is what they say he’s going to be. But that’s the “show me” part of this whole thing.
To what extent do you agree with the comments made by Bram Weinstein that are reported in this article?
This poll is closed
5 - I agree completely
4 - I mostly agree with what he said
3 - I’m a bit ambivalent
2 - There’s not a lot here that I agree with
1 - Weinstein is way off the mark